Last week, I wrote one of the most popular posts ever on this blog. It was about the difference between doing normal work, and doing work that matters. I recommend you read it, before continuing with this post.
One of the many emails I received following that post, was from Giles Payne in Canada. Giles asks an excellent question, which echoed what the majority of you asked me. Here’s the question along with my answer:
I know it’s impossible to tell each reader what we, individually, should do in order to switch to the work that matters model, but can you help us with some ideas on where to start, Jim?
The best general advice I can give, regarding where you should start, is with your craft.
- Your craft is the element of your work, which is uniquely you.
- Your craft is the creativity you inject into what you do.
- Your craft is about creating something fresh, which then touches the lives of other people.
If you give 100 people a pencil and paper and ask them to draw a bridge, you will get 100 unique drawings. Each of these drawings shows how that person sees and depicts a bridge. No one is right. No one is wrong. Everyone is unique.
In business, those who successfully apply their craft, accept the fact that they are unique and allow their uniqueness to touch everything they do. Commercially, the magic begins when your craft produces something, which others see unique value in. Doing work that matters is what I call the development and delivery of your craft.
The majority of business owners struggle, because they focus on being like their competitors, but just a little, cheaper, faster or better. By being too similar to their competitors, they render themselves almost invisible. They get into the numbers game. They find themselves selling on price, not value.
How doing work that matters can be a game changer
Imagine you are looking to buy a tablet device today. For most people, they are faced with the following question: Do I buy an iPad or one of the other devices? In reality, that is not the correct question. There are dozens of choices and some are very good indeed. The thing is, Steve Jobs’ approach to doing work that matters, means Apple produced a game-changing device that has so far, eclipsed everything else.
It’s worth remembering that Apple were not first to market with a tablet by a LONG way! Toshiba and others were producing tablet devices many years before Apple; yet they failed to produce anything that excited the marketplace. They simply produced what were essentially laptops, with a touch screen. They failed to use their craft to develop something fresh and compelling.
Sharing your craft
It takes courage to share your craft with the marketplace, rather than do work that’s expected. That’s because the more unique you are, the more visible you become. If there are 10,000 people standing in a stadium, wearing white shirts, and you are standing in the middle, wearing a red shirt, you will draw more attention than any of them. That’s because people’s attention is drawn to that, which is different.
Here on this blog, I share my craft with you very publicly. I try to write useful material for you, based on my unique experience and my particular approach to marketing and business development. Everything I do here is visible. Every idea I share is open to debate. However, as a direct result of sharing my craft, every day a subset of my readers contact me, to see how I can help them develop their business.
Whilst I’m sharing my craft here, there are marketing providers all over the world, attending networking groups, pestering people for business leads. Many of those marketing providers are talented. However, they need to ask people for referrals, because they focus on doing what’s expected, rather than applying their craft to doing work that matters. I have helped dozens of fellow marketing professionals to overcome this challenge and the first step always, is to focus on your craft. That is my suggestion to you too, regardless of your industry or profession.
That’s a pretty long answer to that initial question, but the subject is way too important to dismiss with anything less.
I hope you found this post useful!
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Photo: Orin Zebest